The Person of Christ As Revealed in the Gospel of Matthew

Samuel Ridout

The first four chapters of the first Gospel yield quite a complex view
of our Lord. In the first chapter, He is spoken of as the Son of David, the Messiah; also
as the Son of Abraham, the Seed in Whom all the nations of the world are to be blessed.
This term also suggests the family of faith. “They which are of faith, the
same are the children of Abraham” (Gal. 3:7). He is also the Son of the virgin,
suggesting the promised “Seed of the woman,” and declaring His miraculous birth,
His sinless nature, and the fact that He was not in Adam. He thus inherited no sin, nor
did death have any claim upon Him. This Son of the virgin is the One foretold by the
prophet as Immanuel, “God with us,” which declares His Godhead. The name
actually given to Him in fulfillment of this prophecy, is full of significance – Jesus,
“Jehovah the Savior.” Jehovah, the name of the covenant–God of Israel,
revealed in connection with the redemption out of Egypt, by its form seems to point
forward to the future — the letter yodh being a sign of the future. That name
therefore was the pledge that there should come the true covenant–Redeemer, who
should save His people from their sins.

Passing to the second chapter, we see the King of the Jews, born at
Bethlehem in fulfillment of the prophet?s words. It is not however the homage of His
own people that is rendered to Him, but of the wise men of the East, in answer to the
prophet?s words, “Gentiles shall come to Thy light, and kings to the brightness
of Thy rising.” (Isa. 60:3)

The flight into Egypt, and the subsequent residence at Nazareth, speak
of the rejection of the Messiah by His people: “He came unto His own, and His own
received Him not” (Jn. 1:11); He was the “root out of a dry ground,”
although the “root of David”; “He was despised and rejected of men.”

Chapter three describes the preaching of John the Baptist in
fulfillment of the prophet’s words, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.” We may be sure that
“the Lord,” Jehovah, spoken of in these words, is none other than the Lord
Jesus, whose way was prepared by John’s preaching of repentance. John’s
description of Him as One mightier than himself, is confirmation of this. His baptism is
not with water, the outward form, but with the Holy Spirit and with fire. This was
accomplished at Pentecost, when cloven tongues of fire, the outward emblem of the Holy
Spirit, came upon the apostles. The final baptism of fire still waits in the forbearance
of God until the time for final judgment shall be ripe. Surely we can think of none but a
divine person sending forth the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead.

We have next a greater testimony than that of John. As Jesus is
baptized the heavens are opened, and God, the Father, from that excellent glory, proclaims
that lowly One as “My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” This divine
witness is sealed by the descent of the Holy Spirit as a dove upon the Son of God. As the
bird of love, sorrow and sacrifice, the dove is beautifully emblematic of the character
and work of Him so designated.

We pass in chapter four, by an abrupt transition, from visions of
heavenly glory and the witness of divine persons, to the fasting and temptation of Jesus.
But this testing only affords fresh evidence to the perfection of His character and the
dignity of His nature. Pressed at every point to doubt God, to presume upon Him or to turn
away from Him, He manifests His holy, obedient nature, which gave no response to
Satan’s subtlest appeals. All that man naturally craves, and for which he has
surrendered the place originally given him by God, was turned from by the Lord with the
ever-ready answer from the word of God, “It is written.”

In these four chapters of Matthew we thus see our Lord as Messiah, the
promised Seed of Abraham, the Son of the virgin, God, Jehovah, the King of the Jews and of
the nations, the rejected One, the Lord, the Baptizer with the Holy Spirit, the future
Judge, the well beloved Son of the Father, the perfect sinless Man, sent forth upon His
ministry of reconciliation.

From these introductory chapters in Matthew, we pass over the
intervening portion which gives us the presentation of our Lord as the King of Israel, and
will notice but one passage in the last chapter of the Gospel. After His resurrection, He
appears to His disciples and says, “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in
earth.” (28:18) Surely such words could never be used of a mere man. “Power
belongeth unto God”; the omnipotent is God alone.

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